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IT'S BOY MEETS URL

By BARBARA HOFFMAN
PHOTO Brooklyn's Ned Vizzini is riding high with his book, "Be More Chill."
- Michael Sofronski
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June 22, 2004 -- IT'S the rare computer- science major who ends up with a movie deal a year after getting out of college but Ned Vizzini's hardly your average geek.

At 17, the Park Sloper wrote the book on teen angst with his confessional columns for The New York Press.

Many Salinger comparisons and a Hunter College degree later, he's back with his first novel, "Be More Chill."

Quirky, funny and dead-on in its take on the contemporary male teenage mind imagine Holden Caulfield with Internet access "Be More Chill" hadn't even hit the shelves before the "American Pie" filmmakers grabbed it for a movie.

"We saw it in the galleys and knew," says Chris Weitz, who calls the book "a genre unto itself."

"We just loved how honest it is. It doesn't give you the atmosphere that's presented in tweener movies, but the way teenagers actually live their lives."

Jeremy Heere, Vizzini's nominal, nerdy hero, lives mostly on-line. Even as he surfs for porn, he longs for a beautiful girl in his high school. He hasn't got a chance until he gets a "squip" a supercomputer in pill form.

Once swallowed, it gloms onto his brain and tells him in the neutral tones of Keanu Reeves what to wear, what to say . . . in short, how to be cool, which eventually gets him into hot water with the one person he loves the most.

From the looks of things, the gawky Vizzini might use a squip himself. Barely 23, he looked more Holden than Hollywood the other day in khaki cargo shorts and black socks and a lopsided smile.

As he sat in his dusty apartment, not far from where he grew up, he messed with the Slinky on his coffee table as he talked.

"I never thought writing was going to make me any money," Vizzini tells The Post, "and I always liked computers.

"Writing for computers and writing for people is not that different. A lot of the same principles apply: Keep your writing short; don't waste anyone's time."

He certainly wasted no time getting into print. As a Stuyvesant HS student, his confessional columns for the Press were later compiled in a book titled, "Teen Angst? Naaah."

The Miramax producer who optioned the book described it as "a teenage male version of 'Bridget Jones's Diary,' or a latter-day 'Catcher in the Rye.' "

Which is great news for a writer except J.D. Salinger didn't get spat on by Stuy students who weren't thrilled to see their exploits (and names) in print.

"There was lots of fallout," Vizzini concedes. "[But] whatever else has happened in my life since I turned 18, I've never been bored. I hate being bored."

He's now working with "High Fidelity" scribe Steve Pink on turning "Be More Chill" into the next "American Pie" even as the book enjoys more or less simultaneous printings in England, Germany and France (where the cover shots are racier).

Computer nerd that he is, Vizzini's also devised all kinds of squip-centered Web sites to promote the book. Since "Angst," he's spoken at schools across the country, and he communicates with hundreds of kids through nedvizzini.com.

"People worry about the crumbling moral fabric of America," he says. "I'm worried about the kids who are missing out on the crumbling the kids who are watching TV and thinking, 'Wow! My life is not like this at all! What's wrong with me?' "

Vizzini tells kids to turn off the TV and try writing blogs, journals, books.

"Their support has gotten me where I am today and I throw it right back at them," he says. "Go and write some good stuff!"

If Holden hadn't been so obsessed with "phonies," he'd probably have taken the challenge.



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